Fred Swaniker | Serial Entrepreneur & Leadership Development Expert

Fred is deeply passionate about Africa and believes that the missing ingredient on the continent is good leadership. In line with this, he has founded two organizations that aim to catalyze a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial African leaders: African Leadership Academy and the African Leadership Network. In recognition of his work in developing Africa’s future leaders, Fred was selected as one of 115 young leaders to meet US President Obama at the first-ever President’s Forum for Young African Leaders held at the White House in 2010. He has been recognised as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and was listed by Forbes Magazine among the top ten young ‘power men’ in Africa in 2011. Fred was also recognized by Echoing Green as one of fifteen “best emerging social entrepreneurs in the world” in 2006. He was a 2009 TED Fellow and is a Fellow of the Aspen Institute’s Global Leadership Network. 


My Definition Of SuccesFred Swaniker quote pic 1s | To me, success is not just about my own personal achievement. I believe that a rising tide lifts all boats, and I want to help create the opportunities for Africa’s tide to rise. African Leadership Network, African Leadership Academy, and our other ventures exist to tap into the enormous existing talent that is present among Africans. To me, I will be successful when all Africans are able to realize their full potential, and when the young leaders from ALA and the more established leaders in ALN are finding ways to create prosperity for Africa and improve the lives of ordinary Africans.


Principles And Values I Live By | I value relationships above everything else. Nothing can be accomplished, especially in Africa, unless strong relationships are in place. I also believe that when you reflect back on your life, it won’t matter what you accumulated. What will matter are the people you spent your life with.  Therefore it is extremely important to cultivate and nurture relationships, whether they are personal or professional – and often they are both. The difference between collaborations that are strictly business and those that are based on mutual understanding and trust is enormous. Collaborations based on genuine relationships are the ones that are going to succeed and be sustainable in the long term.


The Difference Between good And Great Is | Passion. Someone can be very talented at what they do, but if their heart isn’t in it, it’s obvious. I believe that to be great at what you do, you need to be fully committed to it. It is passion that makes someone want to throw themselves into their work and truly be great. It is passion that makes you get up and keep trying, no matter how many times you get knocked down or find obstacles in yFred Swaniker quote pic 2our way.


I Am Driven By | The sheer number of dynamic and talented people on the African continent. They are working every day to improve their communities, their continent, and the world, and I see my role as helping to provide the platforms they need to achieve their goals and dreams most effectively.


My Future Ambition | I don’t think my work will be done until we have good leadership on the continent. It is the single most important issue we need to get right if this continent is to move forward. I also will not rest until more of Africa’s leaders are collaborating better together across borders.. This doesn’t necessarily need to take a political form, but Africa is fragmented, and that must change for it to realize its full potential. My ultimate goal is to see an Africa where people from all over the continent are free to collaborate, communicate, and interact with one another.


Key Talent | I see myself as a talented connector. To me, everyone I meet is a potential ally in the mission to build African prosperity and a new generation of leaders, and it excites me to figure out ways to connect people to this movement and to each other to create change. My advice to readers would be to see everyone you encounter as having something positive to offer, to find out what that is, and to find out where your vision and theirs overlaps. That’s what true collaboration looks like.


The Legacy I Would Like TFred Swaniker quote pic 3o Leave | I would like to leave behind a world where Africa’s fourth generation of leaders have done their job. I believe that each post-colonial African generation of leaders has had a role to play: the first generation fought for, and gained, independence; the second generation sadly brought corruption, warfare, political instability and the overall poor reputation that became synonymous with leadership in Africa; the third (and current) generation of leaders has brought more political stability and greater accountability; and the fourth generation – ours – finally has the opportunity to create real prosperity. I want to leave behind a legacy where I played a small part in fulfilling that role.


On Inspiring Others | The most important criterion for finding people to work with is that they must share the vision for a prosperous, united Africa. If they are passionate about that cause, it will keep them motivated. Seeing our work in action also motivates my colleagues and me – hearing stories about collaborations that came from ALN-fostered relationships or about ALA graduates who have gone on to excel in their studies or start a new business or NGO. When we all have the same vision and the same goals, it is easy for our team to stay motivated.


I’m Inspired By | ALA students, who are already extremely impressive so early on in their careers, and by ALN members, who are living out the mission to power African prosperity. I am also inspired by the African independence leaders, like Julius Nyerere and Kwame Nkrumah, who fought for their countries’ independence from colonialism and promoted a pan-African vision.